Why Electric Cars Have Low Top Speed (Are All EVs Low Speed?!) – New Video

Electric cars offer everything, right? Eco-friendly credentials, awesome acceleration, and high top speeds. Wait, back up – that’s wrong.

EVs historically have much lower top speeds than gasoline cars, but why is this? Are all EVs low speed, or only some of them? We explore these questions, and more, in this video.

The video timestamps (for each section of the video) are below:

  • 0:00 – Intro
  • 1:10 – #1 (are EVs slower?)
  • 1:38 – #2 (how much slower are EVs?)
  • 3:36 – #3 (are all EVs slower?)
  • 5:15 – #4 (why are many EVs slower?)
  • 5:40 – Conclusion

Video Transcript

Picture the last EV advert you saw, what were the top things you remember from it? Did it go something like this perhaps?

“The Tesla Model S; 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds”

“The Hummer EV; with 11,500 lb-ft of torque”

“Jaguar i-Pace; all the luxury, none of the emissions”

Acceleration, instant torque, zero emissions — all of these things are great things – great attributes to celebrate on any EV. But do you see the one car factoid that’s conspicuously missing from all of this marketing blurb? That’s right – top speed. 

Normally, OEMs can’t wait to share the horsepower rating, engine size, top speeds and more with us, but what are they hiding with electric cars? Well, perhaps “hiding” isn’t quite the right word here, but there’s certainly less focus on top speeds when it comes to EVs, and a lot more focus on their acceleration.

Hi I’m Tristan from Green Car Future, and in today’s video, we’re going to explore exactly why that is – by answering the four key questions you see on the screen now.

Firstly, Are Electric Cars Slower?

While they are definitely quicker off the mark than their petrol-powered counterparts, EVs are most certainly lagging behind when it comes to top speed (that’s just clear). In fairness, it’s probably not a big thing they have to worry about, to be honest, because in truth most early EV adopters are making the switch out of concern for the environment. There’s not so many Clarkson-esque petrol heads among the current EV fanbase, after all!

Secondly, How Much Slower are EVs?

It’s hard to compare exact like for like since the electric models in many OEM ranges are quite unique and don’t share a petrol “sibling” car to compare so directly with. But below are some examples of popular EVs in the UK and their top speeds, along with another model by the same OEM and we’ll see how the top speeds compare:

Firstly, The Nissan Leaf – one of the most popular EVs in the world – is in fact powered by a 40kWh or sometimes a more powerful 62kWh battery, and gets a top speed of 98.5 mph. Compare that with the UK’s favorite crossover SUV, the Nissan Qashqai, and that SUV gets up to 120 mph at full whack.

Hyundai’s Kona Electric Ultimate model gets up to a superior 104 mph to beat out the Nissan Leaf, but then again Hyundai’s i30 Fastback saloon model gets to a very pleasing 155 mph.

The beautiful Mini John Cooper Works GP hatchback model with its 2.0L turbocharged engine gets to a very happy 145 mph when travelling at top speed. It’s probably what you’d expect, because who’s ever heard of a slow mini, right? Well, the Mini Electric only manages 93 mph…yes, it only has two figures in its top speed. That is no Mini….it’s a BMW-made golf cart.

Speaking of German auto giants, we finally come to the much-touted Audi e-tron, managing a pretty decent-looking 118 mph. It’s certainly beating out the other EVs we’ve mentioned thus far. But then again, the Q7 SUV gets way up to 147 mph.

A lot of people have seen and maybe even bought the Renault Zoe – 84 mph. Have you also seen the Renault Megane RS? 158 mph.

You clearly see the pattern that’s emerging here, right? But is this true of all EVs?

Well, that brings us to our third question. Are All EVs Slower?

Of course there are many notable exceptions to this rule of slower electric cars. The Tesla Model 3 is the single best-selling EV in the UK right now, and it gets up to 162 mph in its fastest configuration.

Audi redeems itself with the RS e-tron GT, which boasts a top speed of 155mph; the Porsche Taycan Turbo is their second quickest at 161mph, the fastest being the Turbo S that can activate its Overboost feature to gain an additional 134 hp over its Turbo sibling.

Newcomers in 2021 – last year – like the Lucid Air are offering top speeds of 168 mph, while at the top of the pile you have the Rimac Nevera which can get up to 258 mph, but with a $2.5 million USD price tag is unlikely to be flying off the dealership forecourts any time soon.

So it seems that some EVs are incredibly fast after all. When looking at the slower and faster EVs, one thing does seem to separate them: money! Price. It turns out you have to pay through the nose to get yourself a genuinely fast EV, with the arguably exception of the Model 3, which is at least as affordable as the Audi e-tron when you think about it at around $56,990.

But the Audi RS e-tron GT is $140,000, the Porsche Taycan Turbo S is $185,000, the Lucid Air is $170,000.

$139,990 for the Audi RS e-tron GT

$150,900 for the Porsche Taycan

$185,000 for the Porsche Taycan Turbo S

$169,900 for a Lucid Air

That brings us to our fourth point. Why Are Many EVs Slower?

Ok, so we just covered that the elite slice of the EV range is definitely as fast if not faster than some of their petrol-fueled counterparts and rivals, but what about the others we talked about? Why are they so much slower? What fresh mechanical hell  has forced a Mini in the 21st century to go out in public with a 2-figure top speed?

The main reason for the limiting of top speed in EVs comes down to battery charge. OEMs like Tesla, Audi, Porsche and others have shown that huge top speeds are possible, and yet many other models are maxed out at humiliating speeds. It’s all about battery preservation and range extension. Range anxiety, and all that

Don’t forget that one of the biggest factors behind EV competitiveness is max range. In the current market of the EVs, he who can conquer the consumer’s range anxiety is more likely to hook the customer in purchasing what is likely their very first all-electric car. For many EV makers, they’re struggling to keep up with the likes of Tesla when it comes to range, and Tesla is even offering speed along with the range.

This helps to explain at least in part why Tesla is doing so well in the UK – and the rest of the World. The 2020 Model 3 offers up to 353 miles of range, plus an impressive top speed. The Nissan Leaf only goes up to 226 miles max, and it has a lower top speed. That has a lot of sway. Of course, the Model 3 can’t go 350 miles at its top speed, but in the realm of market competition, that doesn’t really matter currently.

So what do we conclude from all this? Well, EV makers are having to make choices about the car’s performance. In order to keep range high, they have to sacrifice some of the top speed: it’s a trade-off. By keeping cars under 120mph, they can ensure that more drivers will experience the range as claimed by the manufacturer. Instead of getting nowhere near that range.

In a level playing field, this might mean that EVs would have many more years to go before convincing people to buy them en masse, but with the 2030 government deadline to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK looming, people are paying attention now.

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